Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. R. Wayne Fuqua

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy L. Damashek

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicole R. Najar

Fourth Advisor

Dr. C. Richard Spates


Acceptance and commitment therapy, yoga, complementary and alternative medicine, depression, mindfulness


It is estimated that up to 30% of college students feel clinically depressed, and these feelings can lead to poor grades, substance abuse, unsafe sex, and suicide (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has shown to be an effective form of psychotherapy for depression and was listed in 2014 as an evidence-based treatment for depressive disorders according to the APA Presidential Task Force on Evidence-Based Practice (2006). In addition to psychological treatment, various exercise interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing depressive symptoms (e.g., Rehorst, Wipfli, & Landers, 2009). Yoga is one such exercise intervention that combines physical activity with mindfulness meditation practice, and demonstrates as an effective ancillary treatment for depression (Cramer, Lauche, Langhorst, & Dobos, 2013). ACT includes many treatment components and also incorporates mindfulness to promote contact with the present moment, thus yoga conceptually overlaps in this particular respect as an ancillary treatment with ACT. The purpose of the present study was to compare ACT alone to ACT plus a yoga component with college students, using a single-blind, randomized, active control design to determine if the addition of yoga helps to further relieve depression. Results from a small sample size revealed similarly improved outcomes on depression, mindfulness, acceptance, and quality of life domains for both an individual ACT intervention condition and an ACT plus group yoga condition, suggesting yoga may not add to the effectiveness of ACT. However, an interesting trend was noted within social relationships quality of life suggesting that the addition of group-based yoga may help to further improve social quality of life. Further studies with increased sample size are needed to better determine effectiveness of yoga as an ancillary treatment for ACT for depression, and to further explore the effects of yoga on social well-being.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access